Rantz: Seattle has a gang problem that Democrats won’t mention

Aug 21, 2023, 5:59 PM

seattle gang problem...

SPD crime scene near Ravenna (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

Seattle’s violent crime surge, particularly when youth are involved, is driven by gang violence. But leaders literally don’t want to mention gangs. 

Seattle and the greater Puget Sound area are dealing with a handful of violent gangs. They’re taking advantage of our city’s, county’s, and state’s soft-on-crime laws and policies, especially our lax approach to drug use. They know if they’re caught, they are unlikely to spend much time (if any) in jail. But gangs get territorial and are quick to settle arguments with guns. Shockingly, they don’t follow gun laws.

So why aren’t local Democrat leaders, who (along with voters) are responsible for creating the culture of lawlessness, talking about gangs? It’s something officers of a dangerously understaffed Seattle Police Department (SPD) worry about.

More from Jason Rantz: After mass shooting, Seattle voters share the blame

Police blame gangs, as Seattle Democrats blame guns

While Democrats use tired talking points promoting the latest gun control measure that wouldn’t impact crime, cops are saying gang violence is surging.

“Shootings in Seattle and the region with multiple victims and/or multiple shooters are generally gang-related shootings,” one current SPD officer tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, on the condition of anonymity as they haven’t been cleared to speak to the media. “There are several gangs in the region that currently and historically have ongoing conflicts going on with each other that result in a shooting(s). There is continued retaliation back and forth after that.”

The most recent mass shooting at a hookah lounge in Seattle is believed to be connected to gangs. 

“The gang conflicts are often due to being from rival gangs/areas. It’s also been common that one gang splits, people align with a side and those sides identify as new names. They then start going after each other,” the officer explained.

And the gang members know they can get away with their crimes, allowing them to act more brazenly.

“A big reason this has been able to continually thrive over the last few years is the complete lack of accountability for criminal activity within the Juvenile system,” the officer noted. “All of the above info is commonly discussed amongst the detectives from the region investigating the incidents. It’s just not talked about publicly by leadership (Politicians/Chiefs).”

Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) president Officer Mike Solan echoed this concern to The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

“[The] most violent criminals no longer fear arrest from police as the activist ‘reform’ efforts targeting the criminal justice system have created almost zero criminal accountability for violent criminals,” Solan explained.

Staffing crisis makes the crime surge harder to stall

With nearly 600 officers exiting the force since the Black Lives Matter riots and rallies, which helped get the Seattle city council to amplify plans to defund police, the SPD is dangerously low on police. It means criminals can rest assured that the chances are low of any interaction with an officer during or immediately after a crime. Criminals feel emboldened. 

Solan told The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that there’s simply “not enough police visibility on the streets to deter gang violence.”

“The Gun Violence Reduction Unit (formerly SPD’s Gang Unit) no longer conducts proactive street level investigatory gang/gun violence police work,” Solan pointed out. “They are now strictly case desk detectives following up on other detective work from across SPD’s entire Investigations Bureau. This is another grim reality of losing 600 officers in 3 years. We don’t have enough detectives across the city.”

Solan argued that the city could help recruit and retain more officers by finally offering his members a contract.

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Evolving gang violence

Lieutenant Jessica Taylor (Retired) left the SPD over principled disagreements with leadership. In a scathing resignation letter, she said the city has been turned over to the criminals. And she notes that a big part of the problem isn’t merely gang-related — it’s how gangs are evolving in how they form and how they act.

“While gangs in the 90s often hailed from places like California and Chicago, many nowadays have generational deep local roots. The internet, particularly video platforms have played a pivotal role in glamorizing the gang lifestyle, showcasing flashy cars, money, and drugs,” Taylor exclusively told The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “What was once about physical initiation has evolved into criminal proof of loyalty. It’s disheartening that many young people feel trapped and view this as their sole escape.”

Taylor is, of course, correct. And it’s obvious. But why won’t leaders call out the issue? Politics.

Radical Left view of gangs

Gang membership, generally speaking, is disproportionately Latino and black. This is true locally and nationally, according to the data. Progressive politicians, post-Black Lives Matter, do not want to be perceived as “targeting” Latinos or blacks, especially when the solution to gang violence involves a criminal justice system they claim to be racist.

In Chicago, the Radical Left mayor even objects to labeling lawless, riotous teens a “mob” because “it’s important that we speak of these dynamics in an appropriate way.” Like so many others on the Radical Left, Mayor Brandon Johnson believes gang members (particularly juveniles) are victims of an unjust society, poverty, a lack of resources in their communities, failing schools, and other issues they ascribed to institutionalized racism. Labeling someone a gang member, or even acknowledging gangs exist, plays into a dangerous game of labeling all young “black and brown” youth as criminals. 

As is often the case with ideologically rigid thinking, especially when it comes from radicals, it makes little sense. Gang members are not victims of anything when they’re breaking the law; they’re victimizing innocent people. It’s important to invest in programs to keep children out of gangs, but once they’re breaking the law, they’re no longer worthy of protection because they’re the ones who are the threats. And using the term “gang” to acknowledge a reality doesn’t mean all Latino or black youth are a threat. It’s a ridiculous and offensive oversimplification of the issue that hinges on the same BLM-driven implication that society is so racist that if you point out the predominant race of gang membership you’ll signal it’s representative of an entire group of people.   

I suspect this fringe thinking around gangs has infected the mayor’s office. When was the last time the Mayor’s Office mentioned the gang problem to begin with? We’re in the middle of a gang crisis and all he can muster up are statements about gun violence, without mentioning who’s pulling the trigger. And until we acknowledge the problem, we’ll never come up with a solution. 

When asked if the mayor believes gang violence is part of the gun violence in the city, a spokesperson did not respond.

Listen to The Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). He is the author of the book “What’s Killing America: Inside the Radical Left’s Tragic Destruction of Our Cities.” Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on X (formerly Twitter)Instagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Seattle has a gang problem that Democrats won’t mention